Taking your child out of Massachusetts? You might need permission.

In 2006, a case came before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that defined state law regarding the removal of children without appropriate approval. The parents had been divorced for some time and an issue arose when the mother wanted to move out of state, taking the children with her. The father objected to the removal of the children. The mother petitioned the probate and family court but the judge denied her request.

The high court then took the case from the Appeals Court and confirmed the judge’s ruling, saying that the evidence presented showed that the move would not be in the best interests of at least one of the children. The move would have put the children further from their father, disrupting his relationship with them.

Removal from the commonwealth

According to Section 30 of Massachusetts law under the chapter for divorce, a child that has lived in the commonwealth or was born in the commonwealth cannot be removed from the state without either the consent of the other parent or the court. If the child is old enough to give his/her consent, then the child cannot be moved out of the commonwealth without the parent obtaining the consent of the child or a court; the law does not specify at what age a child’s consent would be needed, implying that the court may make that determination on a case-by-case basis.

While the law addresses divorced parents, it should be understood that this law applies to other situations as well. These situations include:

  • Domestic violence victims
  • Parents who are still married
  • Parents who have never been married
  • There is only legal parent; paternity of the child has not been established.

A parent who has sole child custody and parenting plans and parenting plans and wishes to move out of state may want to obtain a court order allowing them to do so as a form of protection.

Obtaining a court order

If your child’s other parent has refused to give their consent, then you will need to apply to a judge to obtain legal approval. This involves showing the court that your move will be in the child’s best interests and that staying in the commonwealth will be detrimental to their health and welfare.

For example, if you have been unable to find employment in Massachusetts but have been offered a position in another state that is close to family or that will significantly improve your standard of living, than a judge may agree that the removal of the children will benefit them.

Without a court order or parental permission, you could open yourself up to being in violation of a custody and parenting plans and parenting plans plan, potential contempt of court charges and the potential loss of your custody and parenting plans and parenting plans rights.